January 2016

Science & Technology

  • Researchers at Imperial College London are developing a glove that utilises a battery-powered gyroscope to dampen hand tremors among Parkinson’s patients. More.
  • Researchers at the University of North Carolina have discovered that delivering drugs using exosomes (‘bubble containers’) derived from white blood cells, which hide the synthetic compounds from the body’s immune system, dramatically improves the effectiveness of cancer treatments. The discovery may ultimately lead to more accurate delivery and smaller doses being required during chemotherapy. More.
  • Researchers at Rice University have developed a coating, comprising graphene nanoribbons in epoxy, that can effectively melt ice from helicopter blades and wind turbines on application of a small voltage. The technology may prove to be more efficient and environmentally friendly than current de-icing chemicals. More.
  • Engineers at Bristol University have developed the first 3D printer capable of producing composite materials. More.
  • Engineers at Stanford have developed a new lithium-ion battery that shuts down before overheating and restarts when its temperature has cooled sufficiently. The innovation is designed to address the issue of battery fires that have prompted product recalls for a number of devices, and works over repeated cycles without compromising performance. More.
  • Researchers at MIT have developed a new material that is able to store solar heat captured during the day in chemical form, enabling it to be stored indefinitely and reused when required. The innovation utilises modified azobenzene molecules, which are stable in two different configurations and fluctuate between these in response to light. The material can be manufactured as a transparent thin film for incorporation into numerous applications such as de-icing, which can reduce the driving ranges of electric vehicles by as much as 30% in cold conditions. More.
  • Researchers at MIT have developed an incandescent light bulb that offers significantly improved energy efficiency profile while maintaining its performance benefits relative to LEDs (casting full spectrum of colours so more like daylight, can be dimmed and take no time to warm up). The innovation works by applying a coating that reflects infrared light, which in turn heats the filament meaning that less electricity is required to keep the filament at a given temperature.
  • Researchers at AgResearch, the New Zealand farming science institute, are investigating a number of approaches, including selective breeding, diet control and vaccinations, to reduce methane emissions from livestock. Methane emitted from livestock is estimated to be responsible for 14% of global warming since the Industrial Revolution, according to the New Zealand Greenhouse Gas Research Centre.

Business

  • Microsoft acquired London-based Swfitkey, which develops predictive keyboard technology, for $250m.

New Sources of Funding

  • London-based growth capital investor Synova Capital closed a £250m fund from which it will invest £10m-£30m into companies within sectors including education, healthcare and technology.
  • Canada-based Leaders Fund launched a $100m fund that will target B2B SAAS companies based in North America.
  • Berlin-based BlueYard Capital closed a $120m fund from which it will invest in early stage European start-ups.
  • A consortium of pharmaceutical companies and UK universities (Cambridge, Imperial and UCL) launched the £40m Apollo Therapeutics Fund, which will be used to develop new medicines based on research conducted within the universities. More.
  • New York-based Cavu Ventures closed a $156m maiden venture capital fund, which will focus on branded food and beverage companies.
  • University College London launched a £50m fund, to be managed by Albion Ventures, that will be used to commercialise technologies being developed at the university.
  • US-based Scale Venture Partners closed a $335m fund to back companies operating within sectors including big data, enterprise collaboration and machine learning.
  • Foresight Group held the first close, at £38m, of a fund that will focus on backing companies based in the North West of England.
  • US-based Blockchain Capital closed a $13m fund, which will be used to invest in blockchain technology companies.
  • US-based Sierra Ventures closed a $170m fund from which it will invest in emerging technology companies.
  • Corporate venture investor Rakuten Ventures launched a $84m fund that will be deployed to support Japanese start-ups.
  • Canada-based VC iNovia closed a $175m fund from which it will invest into up to 30 early stage companies operating within sectors including SAAS.
  • Berlin-based internet incubator Rocket Internet held the first close (at $420m) of a new fund that will invest alongside Rocket Internet.
  • US-based Norwest Venture Partners raised a $1.2bn fund that will be used to support start-ups at different stages across a wide range of sectors.
  • US-based TC Growth Partners closed a $300m maiden fund that will back companies operating within sectors including healthcare IT, cybersecurity and enterprise IT.

New products

  • Beeline is a browser plugin that utilises colour gradients to increase reading speed by up to 50%.
  • Million Short is a search engine that allows users to remove up to the first one million Google results, in order to improve access to smaller companies.
  • Scientists from the Michigan Technological University have developed a net-deploying drone designed to capture rogue drones. More.
  • UK-based Silicon Safe has developed a stand-alone hardware device that stores passwords separately from the wider network. The company claims that the device is impenetrable to conventional cyber attack techniques.
  • Microsoft introduced a series of new features to its Cortana personal assistant, including reminders of tasks users have committed to within emails. More.
  • L’Oreal released a disposable skin patch designed to track the UV exposure of the wearer. More.

New company Fundraising

  • US-based Savioke, which develops autonomous robots for service industries, raised $17.6m from investors including Intel Capital.
  • UK-based Babylon Health, which develops an app through which users can arrange video consultations with a healthcare professional, raised $25m from investors including AB Kinnevik and Hoxton Veutures. More.
  • US-based Learn to Live, which provides online self-help programmes designed to address psychological problems including depression, anxiety and stress, raised $1m from a number of backers.
  • Japan-based Sansan, which employs a combination of optical character recognition and crowdsourced transcription to help companies digitise business cards and manage the resultant database of contacts, raised $16.9m from investors including DM Ventures and Salesforce Ventures.
  • US-based Rhythm Superfoods, which develops organic plant-based and nutrient-dense snacks, raised $3m through a CircleUp crowdfunding campaign.
  • Sisense, which develops tools designed to simplify business analytics, raised $50m from investors including Bessemer Venture Partners.
  • Germany-based Blinkist, which provides summaries of non fiction books, raised €4m from investors including Greycroft Partners.
  • UK-based Oxford Endovascular, an Oxford University spinout that is developing laser-cut metallic mesh tube devices designed to treat brain aneurysms, raised £2m from investors including Oxford Sciences Innovation. More.
  • UK-based Import.io, which develops tools that enable website content to be captured and sorted into structured tables of data, raised $13m from investors including Imperial Innovations.
  • US-based Patreon, which enables artists to raise financial sponsorship from their fans, raised $30m from investors including Thrive Capital and Index Ventures.
  • StorageCraft Technology, which develops backup and recovery software, raised $187m from investors including TA Associates.
  • Israel-based TravelersBox, which enables travellers to convert leftover foreign currency into usable digital currency, raised $10m in a round led by Arbor Ventures.
  • Pindrop, which develops technologies that identify fraudulent phone calls by analysing the content of the call itself and data relating to the caller, raised a $75m Series-C round led by Google Capital
  • London-based Citymapper, which develops an app that enables users to easily navigate urban environments using public transport, raised a $40m Series-B round from investors including Index Ventures and Benchmark Capital.
  • France-based Dayuse, which provides a daytime booking platform for hotel rooms, raised €15m from investors including Partech Ventures.
  • US-based PhotoSonix Medical, which is developing a treatment for acne based on combining ultrasonic stimulation and light to destroy bacteria, raised $1.4m from investors including Princeton BioPharma Capital Partners.
  • US-based Raw Shorts, which is developing a cloud-based ‘drag and drop’ solution that enables users to create instructional videos, raised $1m fro investors including New World Angels. 

Other

  • A study of New York lottery participation suggests that propensity to gamble is increased by unexpected, positive events such as good weather or a sporting result. More.
  • A study conducted by Oxford University has found that public stock prices increase by an average of 9.3% when a new CEO from outside an organisation is appointed and announces a new strategic plan within 100 days of joining. More.